Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who Domesticated the Horse?

From the St. Paul-Minneapolis Horses domesticated (milked and bridled) earlier than thought Last update: March 5, 2009 - 7:26 PM It's a long way from Kazakhstan to Kentucky, but the journey to the Derby may have started among a pastoral people on the Kazakh steppes who appear to have been the first to domesticate, bridle and perhaps ride horses -- around 3500 B.C., a millennium earlier than previously thought. Evidence indicates the Botai culture used horses as beasts of burden -- and as a source of meat and milk as early as 5,500 years ago, said a team led by Alan Outram of England's University of Exeter. "This is significant because it changes our understanding of how these early societies developed," said Outram, whose discovery is described in today's journal Science. Domestication of the horse was an immense breakthrough -- bringing advancements in communications, transportation, farming and warfare. Compared with dogs, domesticated as much as 15,000 years ago, horses are relatively late arrivals in the human relationship. "It is not so much the domestication of the horse that is important, but the invention of horseback riding," said anthropologist David Anthony of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. "When people began to ride, it revolutionized human transport." Outram's team developed a collection of evidence for horses being domesticated by the Botai, including studies that showed horses from the site had tooth wear similar to that caused by bits in modern horses and evidence that ancient ceramic pots once contained mare's milk. Said Outram: "This is, apart from being fascinating, something of a smoking gun for domestication -- would you milk a wild horse?" More from The Mail Online, The original cowboys: Discovery shows Kazakhstanis were the first to domesticate horses By David Derbyshire Last updated at 7:14 PM on 05th March 2009 It is best known as the home of the fictional, and inept, television presenter Borat. But Kazakhstan now has a new claim to fame as the place where mankind first domesticated the horse. British scientists have unearthed a prehistoric 'farm' where horses were tamed on the Kazakhstan steppes more than 5,500 years ago - around 1,000 years earlier than was previously thought. Rest of article.

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